With the widening reach of K-pop, it isn’t surprising to see Western artists reaching out to popular K-pop groups for a music collaboration. While we all like to see our favorite Western singers and K-pop idols perform together in one multi-cultural bop, many K-pop collaborations see Western artists taking a more behind-the-scenes role through songwriting, production, or music arrangement. In fact, some of the popular K-pop songs we’ve ever heard include a few big names in the Western music scene in their credits. If you’re a fan of the likes of Charli XCX, Ed Sheeran, and Bazzi, read on to see which K-pop song they’ve participated in as songwriters or producers:
“Make It Right” – BTS
Globally famous Korean boy group BTS already have quite a number of collabs with Western musicians. Just recently, one of the members, Suga who also goes by his solo alias Agust D, enlisted singer Max as featured vocals in his second mixtape, D-2. Aside from featuring on their tracks, famous Western artists have also lent their songwriting magic to the group, including British pop star Ed Sheeran.
The “Shape of You” singer sent over a song for the Korean boy group to tinker with, which eventually ended up as the song “Make It Right.” If you give it a listen, you might just hear Sheeran’s musical influence in the song.
“Cherry Bomb” – NCT 127
NCT 127, a sub-unit of K-pop group NCT, is known for many bops, one of which is “Cherry Bomb.” The explosive 2017 track is one of the group’s most played songs on Spotify and was even included by Billboard in their list of Best K-pop Songs of 2017. SM Entertainment, the agency behind NCT, enlisted R&B singer Bazzi (credited as Andrew Bazzi) as one of the track's songwriters. Bazzi is well known for his tracks "Mine" and "Paradise." Aside from NCT 127, he's also participated in the production process of "We Go Up," one of the songs of another NCT sub-unit called NCT Dream.
“Love Shot” – EXO
Bazzi's songwriting work for SM Entertainment does not end with NCT. He's also been credited in tracks by another widely popular group under the same agency, EXO. Bazzi also took part in making "Love Shot," one of EXO's most successful tracks after topping Billboard's charts for three consecutive weeks.
“Lucifer” – SHINee
SM Entertainment's collaboration with Western artists doesn't stop there. Another successful boy group under SM Entertainment, SHINee, partly has Bebe Rexha to thank for their song "Lucifer." In 2019, nine years after the song's release, Bebe took to Twitter to share a backstory about how the K-pop song came to be.
“Dream Glow” – BTS
In 2019, BTS World, a mobile game following the storyline of BTS' road to success, was released. The game featured original soundtracks performed by the group themselves together with various Western artists. One of the tracks was "Dream Glow," a sub-unit song performed by the group's vocalists Jin, Jimin, and Jungkook featuring Charli XCX. It's a dreamy EDM-like track with an interesting backstory.
Upon the release of the song, Charli XCX shared that "Dream Glow" initially started out as a song called "Glow" which she'd written four or five years prior to its release. The original lyrics were about "falling in love with someone at a club," but after introducing the track to BTS, they reworked it to revolve around the theme of chasing dreams, which Charli "liked a lot."
“Doctor Pepper” – CL
CL is best known as the leader and rapper of 2NE1, one of K-pop's most popular groups under YG Entertainment. In 2015, CL embarked on a solo project in the US. One of the songs she dropped was "Doctor Pepper," which was produced by American DJ Diplo.
“Knock Out” – GD & T.O.P.
Diplo also had collabs with other artists under YG Entertainment. One was with BIGBANG's rapping duo G-Dragon and T.O.P., who formed a sub-unit in 2010 called GD & T.O.P. They released their first self-titled album which included "Knock Out," a song produced by the American DJ.
“Girls Like Us” – TWICE
In 2019, the JYPE girl group TWICE released their seventh EP called Fancy You, which was listed on Billboard's 25 Greatest K-pop Albums of the 2010s. One of the songs in the EP is called "Girls Like Us" which credited Charli XCX as one of the collaborators for music and arrangement.
“3 2 1” – SHINee
A notable boy band crossover happened in 2013 when members of popular American boy band Big Time Rush co-wrote a song for one of South Korea's own widely admired boy band, SHINee. The song was released as a Japanese single and was co-written by BTR members Kendall Schmidt, Carlos Pena, and James Maslow. Here's member Carlos promoting the K-pop boy group's song.
“When I’m Alone” – f(x)
In 2015, K-pop girl group f(x), after the departure of the late Sulli from the group, released what would be their last album as a group called 4 Walls. One of the songs in the electropop album, "When I'm Alone," was written by Carly Rae Jepsen supposedly for her own album Emotion before eventually getting picked up and repurposed by f(x)'s music label SM Entertainment.
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